Review: Summer Satchel from Yoshi*

You all know how much I love my satchels, so I was delighted when I was offered a Yoshi satchel to review. This wasn’t a company I had heard of before, but I’d seen one of their Coral satchels in the window of a local leather shop and fallen in love with the colour. After deliberating sizes I decided on the 14″ Belforte* (£65.00).

 photo 2014-06-16160119_zpsfc9e96af.jpgThe colour definitely didn’t disappoint when it turned up (bonus points for the company – it was the best packed satchel I have received, loads of bubble wrap, and a gorgeous cherry-print dust bag too) as its summery, bright and very feminine, but not quite as neon as it looks on the site. I fell in love with their Pale Green colour too, so I can only imagine how gorgeous this looks like in the flesh!  The one complaint I do have about the colour is that it isn’t particularly even – there’s a few little black specks on mine. I actually don’t mind them, it makes it look less perfect so I’m less pretentious about using it (with my main satchel I was paranoid about it until it received its first slightly scratch – five months in!).

 photo 2014-06-16160133_zps493afc61.jpgI find the leather quality to be high, although it is a little thinner than my others. Its definitely a lot more flexible, which is great as I can stuff a cardigan in there for chilly evenings, but despite the thinness the straps haven’t taken any noticeable battering during the first few weeks of use. I’m going to be doing a satchel comparison post soon, so you’ll be able to see more closely what I mean!

I’ve loved having a more summery-coloured bag for sunny days, its added an extra something to my outfit and as its more smallest satchel it means I’m carting much less rubbish around! Huge thanks to Yoshi for sending me this satchel to review (remember, all opinions are my own, and I’ve not been paid to write any positive comments) – they have some lovely satchels and clearly follow seasonal trends so I definitely recommend keeping an eye on the site. I’ve been informed their AW/14 Collection will be launching in the next few months so I’m keeping my eyes peeled…
Do you have a summer bag?

The Leather Satchel Co – New Website & Discount

As you all know (from this post, this post, and possibly this one too!) I’m a huge fan of the Leather Satchel Co. I love my satchel (it’s a bespoke custom design), it gets lots of comments from people (including impressing on a recent interview), and it fits everything I need into it. It’s the perfect bag for me!

2013-11-20 15.36.36

The company my satchel came from are pretty much the original satchel makers (they’ve been about a LOT longer than the Cambridge Satchel Company), and they were absolutely delightful to deal with. They listened to everything I had to say, did virtually everything I wanted, and delivery was exceptionally quick (though they did email to warn me of what they felt was a delay). However, some things did go amiss. There was confusion about a small part of my order, and a mix-up of delivery addresses. I felt these problems stemmed from the fact that they didn’t really have a proper website, more an online display, and customers needed to email to order. It was a long-winded way of doing things, and to be perfectly honest I wasn’t the hugest fan of their system, nor their website design. But all that has changed!

They have this month launched a new website, and whilst it’s still the it’s tweaking stage I personally believe it’s a huge improvement! There’s a wider selection of photographs open, and you can buy a variety of standard satchels easily straight off the site – but you can still order your customised satchels too!

2013-06-17 15.17.58There’s also a much-improved care guide (though I’m curious as to the product photographed – I’m trying to find out more about that!), an excellent size guide, and the colour guide seems a lot more accurate now. I think my favourite part is the fact you can order standard satchels directly from the site now – I have my eye on these (a blue one, and a lovely brown one).

To top it all of for you, I have a unique discount code that is still valid, which entitles you to an amount off of your order. I don’t get paid any money for providing you with this discount, and all the opinions of the company are entirely my own but the code is unique to my blog/name so please don’t share it out anywhere else!

EDIT: due to my code being shared externally to this site it was removed by the company – understandably as it was being used excessively. I’m hoping to do more collaborations with The Leather Satchel Company in the future, so watch this space!

I genuinely do recommend this company – my bag is amazing and I’m sure others made by them will be too. For all of my readers wondering about longevity of the bag, a post will be up soon. But for now, go ahead, use my code and treat yourself!

What’s your favourite satchel? 

Also – Don’t forget to vote for me in the National UK Blog Awards 2014, in the following three categories; FoodLifestyle; and Young Persons (18-25) 

What NineGrandStudent Takes to “School”

I was just sorting out my bag for tomorrow (organised much?!) and decided I would do a similar repeat of this post, and show you what day-to-day things my satchel carries. You will remember from a post way back at the beginning of the year that I was really worried about getting a bag that would fit my university essentials in. Unfortunately all over summer I have been secretly worrying that whilst my beloved satchel is pretty big, it wouldn’t quite be big enough. I’m pleased to report that I was worrying about nothing, and it is perfectly fine!

All of this stuff, everything I need to have with me on an average day, fits in (plus an umbrella if necessary)…

2013-10-20 18.17.47

So, what do I have. Firstly, I’ll go over all of the berry/burgundy shades in there. I’m sure you can guess from the amount of products I own in that colour (in particular my satchel!) that I love it. I know it is one of the ‘in’ colors for this season, but I have loved it for years, it really suits me, and so I’m loving being able to buy everything. I’m definitely making the most of it being fashionable and stocking up for years to come!

2013-10-20 18.18.15

Anyway, I have my beloved Vintage Pink Personal Malden Filofax, which carries my whole life around. Literally. It has everything in it, diary, calendar, important details, important contacts, spare cards, everything. I’d truly be lost without it. There is a big post on my new Filofax layout which I will post soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

Then there’s my new J by Jasper Conran purse. I decided to replace my Monsoon purse (seen here) as it did not last well at all, and looked decidedly tatty. This one matches my bag almost perfectly, is a lot smaller, and the coin compartment is far roomier. I must say though that this doesn’t always make an appearance in my day-to-day bag…

…I generally try and just take my ID and bank cards out, and I do so in my card holder from Filofax, which matches my organiser perfectly. This is a huge space saver, but also completely necessary when travelling on trains as its so easy to throw in your pocket and retrieve tickets when you get to a barrier laden down with stuff.

Also in the same colour scheme is my new pencil case…I bought it cheaply from Wilkinson’s as it was thin and smaller than all the others I can find:

2013-10-20 18.19.49

I say it is thin and small, but I can still cram an awful lot in!

2013-10-20 18.20.53

Lunch stuff now! I was really concerned about being able to fit a lunch box into my bag, but this one fits perfectly alongside everything else, and is the perfect size to fit a ham cob (I am a Leicestershire girl at heart!), a packet of crisps, biscuit bar and some fruit. My general lunch at least!

2013-10-20 18.18.53

Speaking of food stuff, I have to mention this little biscuits that my boyfriend bought me as part of my anniversary, aren’t they cute?!

2013-10-20 15.10.29

Now onto the important bit – everything I need for some studying. You know from this post that I use a big four-ring binder from Elba to carry around my ‘in use’ notes for all my modules. I then always carry around my Actuarial Gold Tables around with me, as I need them for a lot of my modules.  Finally, as a mathematical science student, you’ll never find me without a calculator!

2013-10-20 18.21.37

And so that’s everything that I squeeze into my satchel – as you can see from the next photo it does take a bit of arranging, but it does fit really quite easily, and the bag isn’t toooo heavy with it all in!

2013-10-20 18.55.07

Oh, and finally I have to tell you about my purchase of today that will be featuring in my bag tomorrow. My lovely housemate has had me wanting a snood since the weather turned colder, and today I finally found one in New Look in my perfect colour. Here it is!

2013-10-20 18.24.27-1

And so that is everything that fits into my lovely satchel.

2013-10-20 18.55.39

Also, here’s a quick reminder: follow me on Bloglovin’ for easy-to-read updates! And don’t forget to enter my Giveaway Competition!

What do you have to carry around on a day-to-day basis?

Failure of a Student Lifestyle Blogger

I have huge apologies for not having posted much over the summer. The series about starting university I meant to write (as an effort to help new Freshers) just didn’t happen, and nor has the collection of student suppers than I have (honestly!) been practising and photographing for you.

I cannot pretend that all of this failure lies in the fact that my health still hasn’t been wonderful. On top of this I worked an awful lot over the summer (unfortunately not doing a high-powered internship, but gaining some pretty valuable skills at an old retail job of mine), and may have also forgotten my WordPress password…! But all is well now, and I hope to be blogging a little more in the coming weeks!

For now I leave you with a picture of my lovely satchel, which you can read about here, here and here, and remember that you get a cheeky little discount when you quote the code 2KVEAQQ3YXPJW when ordering directly from the Leather Satchel Co.

2013-06-17 15.17.58

Finding my “Impossible To Find Necessity” – Part Two

I know a lot of people have been eagerly awaiting the next instalment of “Finding My Impossible To Find Necessity.” I outlined the problem here, and began the instalments in this post. Anywhere, here the second instalment is! Today I’m going to be discussing more the service I received from The Leather Satchel Co, and my first impressions of my satchel.

I say satchel – I should point out that technically I have a batchel – because I chose to have a handle added to mine. However, I prefer the term satchel, and so will continue to use it. I just thought I should explain in case of any confusion when cross-referencing with other bloggers.

2013-06-17 15.08.37

 

Firstly, the service I received whilst ordering. I mainly dealt with Keith, who I must say is an excellent example of how staff should deal with customers. He was friendly (which is always important!), polite, made me feel comfortable and was both extremely helpful and accommodating. He explained that they can make satchels to virtually any specification (have a look on their Facebook page at some of their custom bags – there is a green one that is utterly fantastic!) so this company is definitely worth considering if you want a bespoke bag made for you, or if you have needs which aren’t being met by bags ‘off-the-shelf.’

After I ordered my bag, I briefly dealt with Tony – I was worried as I had originally arranged for the bag to be delivered to my halls of residence back in Kent, however moved home before despatch. Tony ensured my bag would be sent to my home address, for which I was greatly relieved.

Related to this is delivery time – my bag took a lot longer than others I have read about, but the team explained that was due to my embossing requiring a new plate. From what I have read, delivery from this company is generally extremely quick – and to be honest the wait for mine was only ‘bad’ because I was so excited to receive it! I’m not sure of the exact time frame, and at this point too lazy to check my emails, but I would estimate it took maybe 3 weeks from order to receipt of my bag – so for a custom build that really is excellent!

 

Now, to delivery/packaging, and then finally the all-important first impressions. Once my bag was despatched, Tony emailed me a tracking number (the company ship from APC Express Couriers) and I obsessively tracked my satchel. It very quickly reached the local depot (which I happen to know is very close to my house). It then stayed there for an entire weekend. Sob. I then waited in, not daring to shower or even cook spaghetti carbonara for lunch, until it turned up. Which (obviously) it finally did. Yay!

Here’s the long awaited parcel!

2013-06-17 14.33.43

What’s not overly clear from this picture is that the box was quite damaged – scuffed along all edges, and quite a big hole in one side. I panicked hugely (hence only having the one photo of the box) and quickly opened it to check the inside was undamaged. Luckily it was, however I would like to ask APC to be a little more careful of parcels, particularly ones who are likely to contain items of considerable expense.

As soon as I opened the box, the room was filled with a lovely leather smell – my dog certainly found the smell attractive (indeed, he managed to plonk his wet nose on my bag within five seconds of it being fully unwrapped…)

2013-06-17 15.03.53

Included in my box was a dust bag. I was initially very grateful for this, until I realised that actually it doesn’t (easily) fit my satchel inside, and I was very worried about damage to the satchel on the one occasion I did try to squeeze it in. So, my advice to anyone with a Tallboy with extended gusset is to buy or use a cheap pillowcase when storing your bag – it works for me!

2013-06-17 15.04.51

Now, to the packaging. I had read on many blogs about the wonderful packaging that this company used – brown paper packaging tied up with string. So I was kind of disappointed – my satchel came in a plastic bag. But this really doesn’t detract from the bag itself, and I still got the beautifully worded envelope which contained the details for my guarantee. The Leather Satchel Co guarantees it’s products for five years – you fill in a form on the website, and the guarantee is emailed. As my bag is part of a affililate deal, I wasn’t sure if I qualified for the guarantee – I’ve filled out the form anyway, so I shall see if I do get one or not. I don’t really expect to need it, as my satchel feels so well made, and ready for a long life.

 

Here’s my bag straight out of the packaging (snotty dog nose print removed):

2013-06-17 15.05.43

You can see the bag is a little dusty – I assume work shop dust. It wiped off easily with a soft cloth, so nothing to worry about if your bag arrives like this. It’s something to be expected from an item handcrafted!

Here’s the top of my bag. I thought this was a good photo to show both the strap, shoulder pad and briefcase handle.

2013-06-17 15.17.09

One thing I will say is that in my order specification I actually stated I wanted the shoulder pad to be in the Patent Oxblood Red – it was a bit of a surprise when it arrived with a black one, however I’ve grown to be glad that it did, as I do think a contrasting one may have looked a little odd. I’ve also mentioned previously that I perhaps should have asked for a shorter shoulder strap. At roughly 5ft4 and which it on its shortest setting it is just about right although I’ve prefer occasionally to have it higher as it has bruised the backs of my legs where it swings as I walk.

Above all, probably my most important piece of advice for you if you are ordering a satchel for use at school/college/university is to get a shoulder pad – trust me these bags are heavy even when empty, and carrying around one is quite tough (in a summer dress) with the shoulder pad. I can’t imagine what my skin would look like without that extra padding!

As you can see from all of my photos, the quality and stitching of the leather is absolutely second to none. After a lot of use over the last two/three weeks there has been absolutely no loose stitches – something I actually was expecting.

There were a few little flaws on my bag – two scratches are noticeable to me, although they aren’t particularly photographable. I’m guessing if I had chosen a non-patent leather they would be even less obvious – it appears to be a teeny bit of damage to the finish. No matter though, it’s things like that which make a satchel appear used and loved! This is a handcrafted item, so perfection can’t be expected – it is pretty close though!

2013-06-17 15.08.32

Now, I think that I should discuss the buckles a little bit – this is the part I was probably most concerned about when ordering. I did want buckles – they are more traditional (and I really am a traditional girl at heart!), more secure (having been targeted, although thankfully not caught out, by pick pocketers before this was important to me), and generally just a nice feature. But I was really worried about the leather straps peeling, or becoming damaged due to heavy use. When my bad arrived, the leather straps felt a little dry, so I rubbed some nivea on. Not sure if this is the best thing, but it was all I had and doesn’t seem to have caused any adverse affects. I will be in contact with the company in due course to discuss the best products for caring for the leather. I have come to the conclusion that my straps are safer if I don’t pass them through the final bar – just leave them after putting the prong through the hole. The final bar seems sharper, and more likely to damage, and leaving the straps this way means less effort to get something you need.

I feel that I should also make some attempt to describe the Patent Oxblood colour, however I think my photographs do show it of quite well. It is the perfect combination between neutral and stand-out – it is smart enough to take to work, or for interviews, whilst still being pretty and fun enough to actually want to carry.

 

This has been a bit of a jumbled post, and probably not a hugely wonderful one. I blame the drugs (pre-operation medications have been having some very odd side effects – here’s to the procedure going well on Wednesday!). But what I hope I have made clear is the love for my satchel, the greatfulness to the company, and the fact that I do genuinely recommend that you consider ordering from them. I know I definitely will do again in the future!

2013-06-17 15.17.58

 

 

Unfortunately my affiliate code has been removed due to it being shared outside of my sites. There will hopefully be development of a new scheme in the first months of 2015.

Please note, I haven’t done this for my own personal gain – I wanted to truly see whether it is worth spending the money on a bag, to see if it will last, and to work out the best specifications for a student. All opinions on the company will be 100% honest, and I will be happy to answer any specific questions from readers.

 

 

 

What’s In My Handbag (or What Fits In My Massive Satchel)

This post is a little different from my usual posts. When I saw Money Supermarket were running a competition, I decided I would kill two birds with one stone – enter it, and show you all what I can fit in my satchel – something valuable as you’ll be able to see that it is indeed big enough and deep enough for an everyday school/college/university bag!

I’m still drafting the second instalment of reviews of my satchel from The Leather Satchel Co, but I feel it is getting possibly a little mean of me to not show any pictures anymore. So I thought I’d do a “what’s in my handbag” post. This is not a typical handbag contents for me (although I will briefly describe that at the end) but rather one for a mini-break. The mini-break described here in fact.

So, here’s the outside of my bag. So pretty. Ignore any heads which reflect in the patent leather, I’m having a relaxed greasy-hair-no-makeup day after waking up with a migraine.

2013-07-01 14.27.13

Also ignore my dog poking his head up above the bag. I was going to crop him out, but he’s just too cute! Here he is again…

2013-07-01 14.22.32

And so to the insides!

In the front pocket is my Filofax. I probably didn’t need this over the weekend (if I’m honest it needs pruning, and it is really heavy, and as a result my bag was far heavier than it needed to be – and walking around London for hours with a heavy bag is not overly fun!). Maybe if I got the London tube and street map inserts, which I really want but can’t justify, I’d be able to forgive the extra weight more! But anyway, the front pocket of this satchel is the perfect size for a stuffed personal Filofax. Which is excellent as my Filofax really is my must-have in any bag (see here), it contains everything (contact details, important dates, deadlines, etc) and I’d truly be lost without it. The satchel clearly isn’t too full with the amount of stuff in it either, plenty of room for more!

2013-07-01 14.28.24

Then there is the rest of the inside. The important/interesting content is pictured here:

2013-07-01 14.21.03

There are two cute paper bags, from shopping done over the break. The yellow one is from the bakery (you know, the one where I sent boy to fetch croissants, and pain au chocolat, and the one that bakes awesome bread). The brown one is from Wahaca; we had a fabulous meal there, and had to buy ingredients from the shop to make up the value of a voucher. The bakery bag obviously wasn’t needed after lunch, and the Wahaca bag didn’t seem strong enough to hold the ingredients, so these were transferred to another bag.

Then we have specific items relating to the mini-break. Train and theatre tickets in the envelopes. The theatre programme. An A-Z of London (not photographed here as I had to give it back to my boyfriends parents on returning). A whole packet of plasters (if just out for the day I usually rely on the 2 or 3 kept in my Filofax).

And then the everyday items.

  • Purse. This is a lovely dusky pink one from Accessorize. I actually made a mistake and ordered the incorrect one, as they did have one the exact same shade as my Filofax (yes, I do like thinks matching!) but these coordinate well, and it closes securely. I know I said previously that my Filofax is generally my purse – but when I have a lot of coins (as in London – I love Camden Market where a large amount of people/places don’t take card payments) I like to use a purse as well.
  • Kindle. I love my Kindle! I read a lot (come to think of it, I read and write a lot more than a mathematical science student really should, surely I should spent my time playing with my calculator…) and since I started university I missed having a big bookcase of reading material to hand. A Christmas present of a Kindle was the perfect answer to this, and I know I couldn’t be without it now. It’s also lovely to know I have a lot of extra weight available when I go on holiday – I usually take 12-14 books on a fortnight’s holiday, and last year we became the group unpacking at the check-in desks of Zurich airport… My Kindle is currently housed in a lovely Radley case, which I fell in love with the moment I saw it. It is lovely and secure, a nice neutral colour, but still different, and of excellent quality.
  • Umbrella. I’m a sucker for a nicely designed umbrella, and this vintage-style one from Primark is my current favourite. For the price, it has held up remarkably well, and is currently one of the only ones I have ever owned to last an entire winter (the other we found in a bar in Turkey, used it during a horrendous downpour, and which has lasted a ridiculous four years and is still going strong).
  • Sunglasses. I’m ashamed to say I rarely wear sunglasses, as I feel they don’t suit my face. However I found these in this month’s issue of Cosmopolitan (they are a match to my boyfriend’s everyday glasses). For some reason, taking these didn’t jinx our chance of sun over the last few days!
  • Keys. Note the cute picture of me and my boyfriend. He made me this keyring for a Valentine’s present, and there’s a disgustingly romantic note on the other side. I love carrying it though, cheers me up if I need it! He’s a budding design-y person, so if you’re interested in having someone design something similar, or indeed anything at all, contact me via the Facebook page and I’ll see if he can help.
  • Card Holder. I generally keep this within my Filofax. It’s actually made by Filofax, and completely matches my Malden. I treated myself to it after receiving an instalment/ of my scholarship at university (for academic excellence no less), as I found it difficult to negotiate ticket barriers and a Filofax whilst travelling through London during Friday rush-hour. The joys of a long distance relationship. I definitely recommend something like this if you travel regularly, or alternatively as a nice looking holder for business cards.

And that’s what generally goes in my bag, especially for a mini-break.

2013-07-01 14.23.09

This bag is realllyyyy my university/student/I’m-really-organised bag. It will also, I hope, last long enough to be my bag I use for work when I eventually graduate, although it should at least get me to my industrial placement which will begin next summer. Because of this, it’s usual contents will be rather different to what I’ve described above. The following photos are a little bit improvised, as most of my university stuff is packed away in boxes in the garage.

2013-07-01 14.38.43

You can see from the above photo that my bag will be a lot fuller than with the contents discussed above! The next photo shows just how full it is – it’s NOT crammed, and I could still fit more it, and the straps definitely aren’t straining. But its comfortably full and, as its such a heavy bag, I’d struggle to carry it if it was filled anymore!

2013-07-01 14.39.25

There will always be my Filofax in the front pocket, or at least somewhere in my bag. There will be an A4 folder (this bag also fits an arch lever, amazingly, although not much else would go in with it!) and spare A4 paper (Ryman’s narrow ruled refill, specifically!). There would be my pencil case, and at least one calculator. Most likely a mini-makeup bag for those essential touch ups – Benefit is my go-to brand for this, as I love their pencils. Next year, there will be a lunch box and water bottle, which fit in quite nicely. A lovely classy umbrella. The only thing I’m slightly worried about is where my keys will go. There’s no pocket (other than the front one) in the bag, and I know perfectly well my keys will just fall to the bottom. I’m currently thinking of some kind of zip back which would clip onto the rings where the strap goes, but I’ve not found quite the right thing just yet. If anyone sees anything, please let me know!

2013-07-01 14.35.05

So that’s a little preview of my bag, the type of things that fit into it, and what will hopefully be generally in it next year. A bigger, better, “proper” review of my satchel, or at least part two of it, will be coming soon! But here’s just another photo of it – I couldn’t resist!

2013-07-01 14.37.03

It’s now important for me to briefly analyse the cost of what’s generally in my handbag. Just thinking about my Filofax and Kindle, we’re on just shy of £150 (eek!). Then there’s whatever is inside (luckily I don’t tend to carry cash unless I know I’m somewhere I’ll need it), any tickets (if on a mini-break), ID, make-up (as my ‘touch-ups’ are generally Benefit items, this amounts to a lot), and various random goodies. A typical non-university say would easily see me carrying around probably £250 worth of stuff. Then my bag alone would ‘retail’ at approximately £185. This is assuming my phone isn’t in my bag, as it’s usually in my hand or pocket. To be honest, despite it being classed as a ‘good’ Smartphone, it doesn’t work and I don’t value it – to the point where I don’t bother to pay to insure it. But for arguments sake, if we included it, my bag contents would go upwards of £750. If I was in university, the cost would probably be closer to £150 – I don’t tend to take my Kindle, and again my phone would be in hand. Having considered that, it’s still a surprising amount that I carry around each day, and I think I’d definitely be more wary to pick-pocketers now (having been the victim of an attempted one before, I am a lot more confident with my satchel as it’s so secure). I will point out this though – it may be worth the least amount of anything in my bag, but if anyone tried to steal my lunch, I would be entirely unimpressed. So take the phone, leave the sandwiches!

Finding my “Impossible To Find Necessity” – Part One

After writing this post here, and continuing to do a lot more research and contacting companies to find out more, I decided that the first company I would try was The Leather Satchel Co.

This company really appealed to me because of the excellent customer service reviews, and the possibility of huge customisation – I really wanted a unique bag. Not to mention that this company also make the Original Filofax (I am now the proud owner of an A5 in patent black, which will be reviewed over the next few days). What’s not to love – you could have a matching bag and Filofax!

I sent off for some leather samples, which arrived about 18 hours after I emailed my choices. To me, this was excellent customer service, and the person I was first in email was extremely friendly. You can view their colour choice here, but nothing compares to viewing them, feeling them (I found some had a different texture) and putting swatches together to decide on colour combinations.

Here are the colour swatches I ordered:

2013-06-21 12.21.26

The image quality here is really poor – no matter what I did I couldn’t get them to photograph in their true light. I suggest that if you are interested in purchasing from this company, you ask for some swatches. I believe that this service is currently free, although I definitely wouldn’t begrudge paying postage costs.

I knew, before receiving the colour samples, that I’d want a two-colour design, rather than just the use of one colour all over. The question was which colours!

Before receiving the leather samples, I was pretty much set on having neutral brown colours. I wanted something classic, and wearable. Something that would go with everything. Although I was tempted by the green, particularly seeing this blog post here. All that changed when I saw one particular colour! I completely and utterly fell in love with the Patent Oxblood Red, satchels in which you can see on the company’s Facebook page, and on blog posts here, here and here. I decided to pair this with a non-patent leather, as I thought the buckles would be easier (having received my bag, I believe this to be true), and after tossing between the darkest brown (top left) and black (top right) I went for the black.

 

Then there was the question of the other customisations I would require. This company became my favourite due to the huge amount of choice they have available – you can buy a truly bespoke bag. If you look at this page of their website, you can see how flexible they are. AND if you speak to them direct, they can do even more. Looking on their Facebook page they have created some amazingly unique bags.

I went for this two-tone colour pattern, with the first colour being the Oxblood, and the second being the Black. I added a black handle, which from reading reviews seemed a necessity, and a black strap. Thinking practically (for once) I realised I’d need a shoulder pad, so decided on one in Oxblood (unfortunately, this detail was misread, and I ended up with one in black, rather than what I stated) as this would make carrying the bag for comfortable. Size-wise, I know I carry a LOT so went for a 15″ Tallboy satchel, with an extended gusset of an extra 33%. This makes for a very tall, wide and bulky bag, with plenty of space! I went for traditional buckles (nice and secure, plus they probably allow a little more space for tall items), and a standard length shoulder strap. On reflection, I probably should have asked for one shorter than standard, but with it on the shortest length it is just about right.

 

Having decided on my bag specifications, I was then stuck. I couldn’t afford the bag, and my birthday isn’t until December (just as a hint for all you readers…). I was content, however, to struggle through with my current bag and wait until I could persuade someone to treat me. But then Keith from the company got in touch and, amazingly, offered me a bag to review. A bag completely to my specifications, with the added bonus of embossing. To say I was shocked is an understatement, and I was also incredibly grateful. And a little nervous – I certainly hope my writing and photos shows off this bag to its best. So, I sent off my specifications, and waited. My bag is now here, and it’s virtually perfect. But that’s another blog post! I will be a doing a review of the delivery, packaging, and first impressions of my bag shortly, along with posts in a few months time as to how my bag is lasting. Because after-all, the main reason for reviewing it on this blog is to see how long it lasts with use at school, college or university. For now, I’m going to sit and stare and stroke and sniff my beautiful leather satchel. And if you want a sneak peak at it, look at my Facebook page!

 

I have become an affiliate with The Leather Satchel Co. Currently there is no referral code due to is being shared outside of this site, but I will update with more info in the first few months of 2015.

Please note, I haven’t done this for my own personal gain – I wanted to truly see whether it is worth spending the money on a bag, to see if it will last, and to work out the best specifications for a student. All opinions on the company will be 100% honest, and I will be happy to answer any specific questions from readers.

Student Organisation (with a few mini product reviews)

This post has been in my drafts for a long, long time. I kept meaning to come back and add how things have lasted over time, but just didn’t have the motivation. So now, when I should be revising for my exams next week, I’m doing it. Perfect procrastination!

I’m going to concentrate here on the organisation of the learning part of being a student – how I take lecture notes, work independently, stay on track of things and all little bits like that. What I’m not going to take about is the format of my notes, and how I revise. I think that’s something that is very individual to the subject being studied, and I’m not sure many of you will want to read all about how I learn maths – maybe that’s a post for another day!

 

Organisation is something very important to me – many will call me obsessively organised, and yes, if something is out of place, it will stress me out. One of my key priorities is to have subjects/tasks/stuff differentiated and separated into sections.

The way I do this within my university work is through (lots of) folders and (even more) dividers. For my first year, I have gone with a colour scheme of pink and green – this goes for my whole room (and I was very happy to arrive at university and find I’d been allocated a green room, completely by fluke). So I have pink folders, and green folders. All of these I actually saved after condensing my notes down at the end of sixth form, but if any of you are interested they are all from WHSmiths. Cheap(ish) and readily available. They get based quite easily, but mine generally stay in my room so I’m not too worried about that.
Pink and green folders. Because of the way my course is split, I do Pure Maths modules, and Applied Maths modules (the interesting ones!). Because of this, I’ve split my folders up – pink for the applied, green for the pure. Some of my folders are not ringbinders, but lever arch, and these bigger ones hold bigger modules, ie the 30 credit ones.

I then use dividers to split modules into topics. Usually this is quite easy, in that at the start lecturers told us what topics were coming up. Its not so easy when they just present you with a stream of knowledge, and I’m expected to organise it myself. Potential lecturers/teachers, take note of that!  Because I put a lot of things into plastic wallets, normal dividers don’t come out wide enough. You can buy extra-wide ones, but they are expensive. Instead I cut slots in plastic wallets, and put dividers in those. Works just as well.
So, that’s my main folders discussed.

I then have another ringbinder – a more expensive plastic one this time, again with my widened dividers in. I carry this around with me, with each division devoted to a module. I aim to keep at least one spare plastic wallet per module in there at all times, and some extra paper. This keeps my ‘current’ lecture notes organised, and allows me to slot new things in whenever.

I usually file the stuff in this folder away into the main folders either at the end of each topic, or when it is getting very full and heavy. I confess I usually leave it too late, so it tends to take much longer than it should!

I also keep in this folder two of an item that has become incredibly useful over this last year.  It’s going to be difficult for me to explain these, without sounding like a total idiot, so have a look here. I find them invaluable for throwing in things I will need quickly (I don’t need to take the folder out of my bag to retrieve things from these), and for keeping things in when I inevitably run out of plastic pockets. I actually bought mine from the university’s stationary shop, and paid considerably more than on Amazon, I know I’ll be ordering from there next time!

 

I then carry around the usual pens, pencils, rulers, rubbers, calculator etc. I actually use a make-up bag as I couldn’t find a pencil case I liked in September, however I do now I have a smaller case from Wilkinsons for days my bag is really heavy. Such is my obsessiveness about being organised, I also have an exam pencil case – an extra large clear plastic one, in which a spare calculator lives, and some never used before pencils. Sad I know!

A quick notes about the pens I use. I have been using Pilot Frixion erasable pens since the start of university, and I really do love them. They erase reasonably well (not perfectly, particularly on low quality paper), are quick drying (a huge necessity for a leftie!) and last a while considering a write a lot! A box of 12 pens lasts me just over a 12 week term, at £17 a box. So they are pricey, but for me they are worth it.

For paper, I buy refill packs from Rymans – they’re cheaper (with student discount) than WHSmiths, a better quality paper and they always seem to have narrow-ruled in stock. I have to use narrow ruled!

That is my absolutely essentials, for carrying around a normal day at university. Now if only I could find a bag that would comfortably fit those (and lunch and a textbook) in I’d be happy!

 

For keeping track of timings of lectures, deadlines, exams, and all other activities, I use a combination of things that work for me. Everyone is different, so don’t assume this works for you!

I obviously make use of my smartphone, a Samsung. In my case, my university timetable has synced to my calendar, with all information about lectures. I keep an alarm on set for an hour before the beginning of each to give me enough warning. I also put exams and deadlines on here. I try to keep my work schedule on here too, particularly as I work flexible and so difficult-to-remember hours.

I then have an A3 wall planner. I bought mine from Rymans, as it was the only A3 one I could fine – other sizes were just too big! I record on here term dates, exams and deadlines, visits to/from my boyfriend, and important financial dates such as payday and rent day. I cross of days with a big black marker – this helps me easily see when I need to do what, and how long it is before I get hugs!

The most important part of my organisation is, however, something any older readers may recognise from the eighties. Yes, I have a beloved Filofax. This was not bought on a student budget (although some models are more easily affordable) and was in fact a treat for my A-level results. I chose a Vintage Pink Personal Malden, which retailed at around £75. I paid £41 for it on Amazon, and got a bargain, especially as second hand versions of this model are currently selling still for it’s retail price. My Filofax contains everything about my life – important medical information, diary (which EVERYTHING goes into, including minor to-do’s such as exercises from lectures), shopping lists, timetables, careers notes, finance recording, cards (credit, store, etc) that I don’t use too often, spare money (I advise to always keep a spare £10 somewhere!), university passwords, shopping vouchers, year planner. Literally everything. It’s currently stuffed to the brim and in need of a sort out. I’m definitely glad I paid a little bit extra for a leather filofax, it lies flat (a problem I have heard about affecting some of the cheaper brands), is lovely and soft, smells wonderful, and will last a long, long time! I am also still in love with the colour. It’s a lovely, romantic, dusky pink – girly, but professional too. Definitely something that will last in terms of style.

(I’ve recently noticed that Filofax have been producing a new range, called the original, which is produced by the Leather Satchel Company, who I talked about in a previous post. I could get a bag matching a (new) Filofax! Ah, if money were no object…)

At some point in the near future I plan to publish (another half-written) article fully reviewing my Filofax, or at least a more in depth discussion of how I use it. Until then, look at Philofaxy for inspiration about how others use them!

I believe that I have discussed the main points about my organisation, for now at least. I aim to blog more (i.e. procrastinate more) over the next few months, particularly as those a year younger than me will be preparing to head to university and I want to help them as much as possible. Bye for now!

The Impossible-To-Find Necessity

You would think a bag is a pretty simple thing to find. I mean, virtually every shop will sell some kind of bags.

As a typical girl, I do love my bags, and freely admit to having quite a few. My lovely (and rather expensive) Hidesign Eton Leather Workbag  (available now from John Lewis, I bought it at a local saddler’s several years ago considerably cheaper than it is now advertised) was bought for sixth form. I do love this bag, I really do. Its stylish, simple, and most important good quality. But it isn’t quite big enough. Sure, it sits a folder in, but then not a lot else. For the moment it’s been relegated to my laptop bag. For this bag in the closest colours to the one I have, look here.

I also have an excellent-quality-for-the-price purple shopper. It was from Pepe Jeans around six years ago, has travelled to numerous countries, and acted as a school bag for many academic terms. It sadly took it’s last holiday last summer, where its zips gave up on a train somewhere between Zurich and Interlaken. I am looking into the replacement of the zips, but at a quoted cost of £40 to do so, I’m wondering whether it might be a good idea to indulge myself and look for a new bag.

(of course, I do have several “pretty” bags…my Zara bowler bag, lovely, unfortunately doesn’t fit A4…my fake LV, in lavender purple, which I went to great lengths to haggle to a good price in a shop off Side’s main high street…my over-sized Henry Holland clutch, bought purely (obviously) because I needed something to take to a wedding/prom and house my diabetic boyfriend’s insulin stuff…)

Anyway, I promise this post is student and university related!

For years, I have really struggled to find a stylish, elegant, decent-quality bag that will comfortably fit at least one A4 folder, along with pencil case, lunch, and maybe some textbooks. I really don’t think this is too much to ask.

The solution I am currently relying on is a felt-style black beaded bag, bought by my Nan many years ago and never used. It fits all my stuff in (just) but it has has a popper fastening, which doesn’t do anywhere near up when ‘full.’ So it’s not particularly secure, it’s hideously uncomfy on my shoulders, and yep, it’s falling apart after just seven months of use.

I’ve tried the satchel style bags from River Island back in my sixth form days. The strap broke, landing the bag in the middle of a very busy road, after two days.

I’ve tried rucksacks, cheap and pricey. One, I really don’t like the traditional hiking style ones (and the fashionable ones aren’t nearly big or strong enough) and, two, it’s just really impractical to use if you’re out shopping and want to grab your purse. Plus, I want something timeless and stylish.

At the moment, I’m currently searching for some kind of bag to use as my university bag for at least my second year, and hopefully beyond. It’s seeming impossible.

I found a close contender on a stall at Fosse Park. It was huge, compartmented, and made of strong PU leather. It was very lovely to look at, and I would have loved it. I opened it up and the flap hid a zip two-inches less wide than the bag. No A4 folder would fit. Damn.

I spent a whole day (even I don’t do whole-shopping-days!) looking for bags in Leicester last week. John Lewis, House of Fraser, Debenhams, TK MAXX, Primark, M&S, BHS. You name it, I looked there. The closest I found was this but it just didn’t seem strong enough.

So, at the moment, I’ve turned to the internet, and searching through word of house to find a bag big enough, strong enough, stylish enough, timeless enough, and just nice enough to justify the price tag….

I’ve looked at the Cambridge Satchel Company. I just adore the style of these, but I just can’t stand the feel. The leather is just too stiff, too inflexible, and they’re also getting a little too mainstream. I want something a little different, but still in the classic leather colours (preferably dark brown or tan).

I’ve looked at Zatchels, a slightly different alternative. Their executive style in brown would be perfect for me, but I just can’t justify the price tag. *sigh* £185, or £195 is just way out of my budget right now. If I can hang on until December, with my birthday and Christmas, then this would be a serious contender. Yet I can’t see my current bag lasting until next academic year, yet alone several months into it.

This weekend I saw an advert at my boyfriend’s university halls  from Chivote. I was really intrigued by this company, so I suggest you check them out!

Then, I found a company which has quickly become my favourite – The Leather Satchel Company here looks an excellent and slightly cheaper alternative, especially with the huge amount of customisation. And they are the original company offering satchels – which the Cambridge company is NOT despite what the majority of people believe.

I had thought, up until this weekend, that these companies were pretty much the ones I was going to be limited to. They are, after all, ones I’ve had recommended in terms of quality and customer service, and I’m pretty sure, almost, that they’d be big enough. But I’m not 100% sure enough to pay out that amount of money (and hey, my student loan doesn’t turn up til next week…).

To anyone who knows anything about bags; here is a list of what I want/need from a bag, so if you have any product or brand recommendations, please comment, or tweet me!

  • Leather, or leather style-plastic
  • Ideally a nice natural neutral colour – brown, tan or red
  • Big enough to fit A4 folder PLUS other items
  • Big enough for 15.6″ laptop (but not completely necessary as my current Hidesign does this well)
  • Ideally with compartments to separate stuff out
  • Outside pockets for easier access to essential items
  • Proper fastening – zip or buckle
  • Strong
  • Extremely long-lasting
  • Comfortable
  • Classically styled

I’m hoping that’s not to hard an ask…I guess the proof will be if I find a suitable bag in the next few months!